Be pre­pared

We don’t yet know if there will be an­other poul­try ‘lock­down’ this win­ter be­cause of avian flu. It pays to be pre­pared though, and Kim Stod­dart of­fers some sug­ges­tions

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Bird flu pre­cau­tions

With avian in­fluenza (bird flu) out­breaks still oc­cur­ring in other parts of the world, a lot of poul­try pun­dits have pre­dicted that the biose­cu­rity mea­sures we ex­pe­ri­enced last win­ter could be a reg­u­lar pre­cau­tion when wild bird mi­gra­tion oc­curs, as they are car­ri­ers of the dis­ease. Although it’s not yet cer­tain if we will need to keep our flocks con­tained, it cer­tainly pays to be pre­pared and to have fa­cil­i­ties in place should this oc­cur.

With this in mind, here are some sug­ges­tions worth con­sid­er­ing:


These large, sturdy move­able runs will safely con­tain poul­try and a coop or two dur­ing any fu­ture lock down. Gar­den Life sells a va­ri­ety of long last­ing en­clo­sures made from strong gal­vanised steel. Com­pany owner John Bolton said: “Our runs are ideal for keep­ing birds in one place, but I would rec­om­mend users also fit some tar­pau­lin over the roof to pre­vent wild bird drop­pings from get­ting in. The un­ex­pected out­break last year took us by sur­prise and we very quickly ran out. This year we have ex­tra stock if it un­for­tu­nately ap­pears again.” https://www.gar­den­


I wouldn’t be with­out my poly­tun­nel, and I know that dur­ing last year’s pe­riod of en­forced poul­try con­fine­ment, a lot of small­hold­ers used theirs to home their birds. It’s a good op­tion for those with­out out­build­ings or other fa­cil­i­ties in place. Do be aware, though, that whilst chick­ens, ducks and geese will prove to be ef­fi­cient clear­ers of slugs, snails and

other gar­den pests that might be loi­ter­ing, they will also hoover up ev­ery­thing else avail­able, in­clud­ing any over­win­ter­ing crops. Also, whilst it’s true that chicken poo in par­tic­u­lar works well as a com­post pile ac­cel­er­a­tor and makes a good ni­tro­gen rich fer­tiliser, birds con­fined for a pe­riod of months may cause scour­ing to the ground. With this in mind, you may wish to cover the ground with a mem­brane, cov­er­ing that with bed­ding of saw­dust or wood­chip so the soil is pro­tected; the bed­ding can then pro­vide a worth­while ad­di­tion to the com­post pile.

Look­ing on the bright side, the po­ten­tial bird flu lock­down could be a great ex­cuse to get a poly­tun­nel if you don’t al­ready have one, or in­deed to buy an­other. These pro­tected struc­tures are so in­cred­i­bly use­ful for fruit and veg­etable grow­ing what­ever the weather, so it’s an in­vest­ment worth mak­ing re­gard­less of your poul­try needs. www.first­tun­


An­other op­tion is to cover ex­ist­ing out­door en­clo­sures with what’s called de­bris net­ting. The main is­sue with nor­mal chicken wire is that small birds can still get through and into your en­clo­sure, so this ma­te­rial en­ables you to keep wild birds out and your poul­try pro­tected.

This is avail­able from var­i­ous sup­pli­ers, such as Wickes and can also be or­dered on­line at Ama­zon.

ABOVE: This is de­bris net­ting, which will help pro­tect your poul­try from wild bird drop­pings. Wild birds can be car­ri­ers of bird flu

TOP LEFT: Poly­tun­nels are a good op­tion for chick­ens in the event of a win­ter lock­down ABOVE: Chick­ens con­tained in a run

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